daughter’s wedding —
glinting in moonlight
the first snowflakes
— Goran Gatalica (Croatia)
(published in The Mainichi, 1/13/2021)
The haiku starts with one of the most precious and emotional days of a person’s life. The festivity, reunion, laughter, and collectivity at a daughter’s wedding may not surpass the deep feelings that are contrary to the celebrations, as it’s a day of departure as well. The subtlety of a parent’s feelings is well interwoven with the weather outside. The first snowflakes are light in weight but still leave behind heavy hearts due to old or new memories—particularly the memories of loved ones that glint or get highlighted in the moonlight where a person, especially parents, reminisce about those memories near the window or fireplace. The winter hush usually brings to the surface feelings of special days and it seems time slows down like a flurry of snowflakes that takes its time before finally touching the ground.
The em dash in the first line pauses one’s thoughts and feelings to imagine the whole scene of the wedding day. I loved the way the writer linked this special event with the subtlety of moonlight and the silence of snowflakes.
— Hifsa Ashraf (Pakistan)
Written from the perspective of a mother or father, I immediately feel the special connection between the parent and daughter in this haiku. This allows me to step into the parent’s shoes and reflect on the long journey it took to arrive at this moment.
I think the juxtaposition between the daughter’s presumably white wedding dress and moonlit snowflakes is a stark comparison, showing the fragile, delicate nature of a marriage, yet also its beauty. I see her wedding dress made of delicate patterns that are interwoven, just as so many lives have been interwoven in the daughter’s life that has led her to this significant event.
The connection between women and the moon is well-known with a long history, stretching back to ancient indigenous cultures on this Earth. In that light, it seems the moon in this haiku connects the daughter with past generations of women and her family lineage. I like how the moon in this haiku links to the mysteries of women and the cycles of life. In a more spiritual sense, during a reverential moment, I can see the daughter’s mind becoming quiet and reflecting a kind of hidden inner light, just as the moon reflects sunlight in silence. It’s interesting to note the daughter’s wedding has continued into the evening hours. I normally associate weddings as a daytime event, but I like how it seems the celebration started in the day and has continued into the evening. I feel this depicts a more romantic and mystical atmosphere.
In the last line, I like how the first snowflakes mark new beginnings, as the newlywed couple starts their journey together. At the same time, I like how snowflakes mark the eventual depth of snow over time, and the depth of the relationship, that ultimately, will seemingly melt and evaporate, “’till death do us part” or perhaps the couple will eventually be reincarnated and meet in another life or in another dimension. Either way, juxtaposing snowflakes with marriage allows me to reflect on the nature of marriage, our human impermanence, and the importance of a spiritual dimension in a partner relationship.
Finally, I like the implied contrast of warmth and coldness in this haiku, and the contrast of darkness and light. I can feel the warmth of people, the glow of lights, and a hopeful, uplifting atmosphere at this wedding, despite the cold, dark night. A beautiful, touching haiku.
— Jacob Salzer (USA)
Hifsa and Jacob went into great detail about the subject of this haiku and its symbolism. I want to provide a bit more technical insight.
I enjoy and respect that the poet used an em dash in the first dash to make the two parts of the haiku distinct. Without it, the second line would act as a pivot, which might not have made sense in this instance.
The length of the lines is in the common range for English-language haiku. Brevity was employed well. The pace and flow of the haiku are smooth, and mirror the original pace of Japanese haiku appropriately.
We have a definite kigo with “first snowflakes,” placing the haiku in early winter. The comparison between such a jovial time as a daughter’s wedding and the enchantment of seeing the first snowflakes is poignant.
The haiku is quite vivid, with the imagery of moonlight on snowflakes, and them glinting during a wedding. There is a lot to imagine for the reader, and that is always a plus. Moods of mirth, eeriness (moonlight), wonder, and more are here.
In terms of sound, I can say that the letter “t” holds sway. With five appearances, and perhaps a semi-appearance of it in “wedding,” I can feel the classiness and tenderness of the event.
It is a fine haiku that illustrates the power of humanity’s connection with nature and vice versa.
— Nicholas Klacsanzky (USA)